Charles Chilton collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Chilton to William Speirs Bruce regarding the scientific results of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904 (led by Bruce).

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Chilton was born in Herefordshire, England in 1860. In 1862, his family emigrated to New Zealand, settling in Canterbury. He was educated at Canterbury College, graduating with a BA in 1880 and an MA in 1881. At an early age he suffered from hip trouble, which led to the amputation of his left leg. He worked as a schoolteacher before continuing his studies in zoology at the University of Otago, graduating with a BSc. in 1888 and a DSc. in 1893. In 1895, he moved to Edinburgh to study medicine, graduating with honours in 1898 and working as a house surgeon at the ophthalmic ward of Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary before continuing his studies in Heidelberg, Vienna and London.

Returning to Christchurch in 1901, Chilton practised as an ophthalmic surgeon, and in 1903, was appointed to the chair of biology at Canterbury College, a post he held for twenty-five years. In 1907, on behalf of the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, Chilton participated in an expedition to the sub-Antarctic islands, visiting the Snares, Auckland, Campbell, Antipodes, and Bounty islands. The party carried out a range of scientific studies, mainly in geophysics, geology, zoology and botany. In 1921, he accepted the post of rector of Canterbury College, serving until his retirement in 1928, when he was appointed professor emeritus. In recognition of his worldwide renown, Chilton was made a fellow of the Linnean Society of London and a corresponding or honorary member of several other scientific bodies. His work includes studies of Amphipoda, Isopoda and higher Crustacea, especially from New Zealand and the sub-Antarctic, and from subterranean waters. He died in Christchurch on 25 October 1929.

Published work, 'The amphipoda of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition', Communicated by Dr. W.S. Bruce in Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, report on the scientific results of the voyage of S.Y. Scotia during the years 1902, 1903 and 1904, under the leadership of William S. Bruce, volume 6 Zoology, edited by William Speirs Bruce, Scottish Oceanographical Laboratory Edinburgh (1912) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1902-1904 Bruce] and 'The crustacea of the sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand' in The sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand edited by Charles Chilton, Government Printer Wellington (1909) SPRI Library Shelf Special Collection Folio (787)


The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 0521309034 and Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and Who was who, 1929-1940, Adam & Charles Black, London (1947)

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

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Further accessions possible.